Data Mining Lessons for Obama's PRISM

Obama's PRISM has been exposed! Going forward, what effect will his PRISM have on US civil liberties, and how can the Obama Administration turn this potential scandal into a 'CLASSIC COKE' moment?
Obama's PRISM for Americans
Obama's PRISM for Americans
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* Hastings On Hudson - New York - US

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HASTINGS ON HUDSON, N.Y. - June 11, 2013 - PRLog -- Earlier this month an ex-CIA employee and whistleblower, Edward Snowden, exposed the Obama Administration’s 6-year old, clandestine initiative, referred internally as PRISM ( This White House directed, domestic-espionage project has been collecting phone logs of millions of American citizens from major telecommunication giants (i.e. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) and emails from nine prominent Internet companies (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) in a concerted effort to thwart future terrorist attacks.  

History shows that PRISM, has prevented numerous incidences including a foiled backpack bombing plot in New York City in 2009. Despite its undisputed success record, PRISM has ignited a national debate on whether the administration has gone too far seeking tighter security at the expense of civil liberties. In a statement to the American people, Obama argues that his actions are justified.

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Not surprising, many Americans disagree with his position and have taken action including Senator Rand Paul ( who will soon introduce a class action suit of which he hopes to obtain over 10 million signatures. Those in favor of Obama’s PRISM believe that the price to pay for security is small in comparison. Just how damaging can a diverted phone log be to anyone, or a random email read, for that matter, if terrorist attacks can be prevented? However, when the process requires canvassing mountains of data that could randomly incriminate anyone, the fundamental basis for the American judicial system where defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty is truly at risk.

‘Con’ concerns do not stop there. They argue that PRISM has set a precedent for further erosion of individual freedoms. Without a counter mechanism in place, future leaders will more than likely continue to up the ante on domestic surveillance until an unimaginable automated version of a Russian-style KGB informant process becomes undetectable and virtually unstoppable. If you are skeptical, consider what happened with consumer debt after Reagan’s supply-side economics took foothold and as a result, every American consumer was doused with credit cards. The combination of economic bubbles that followed has eroded the effectiveness of our elected leaders in Washington who today are trusted by less than 20% of the population.

If the elimination of PRISM is not an option then what mechanisms can be put into place, early on, to prevent domestic surveillance from eroding our individual freedom.  …and if so, what solutions have worked in the past and with whom?

Data Mining vs Mining Precious Metals
Lessons can be learned from another type of mining activity that is very similar to mining data, namely, mining for precious metals in some of the most remote areas on the planet.  Surprisingly, the principals and operations are nearly identical. In both cases expensive machinery and sophisticated software are used to sieve through enormous amounts of data/ore. Both identify specific assets (i.e. key lead/gold) that in aggregate could create exceptional value, a value so great that individuals, corporations, or governments would break laws or silence whistleblowers to secure its use or acquisition. Finally, both processes are confronted with a conflicting trade off that involves the invasion-of-privacy of a constituency of voters.

Just as Americans feel an attack on their personal freedom from PRISM’s data mining activities, local communities in Peru, Congo, Guatemala, South Africa to name of few, experience a similar personal upheaval when global mining companies (i.e. Barrick Gold (, Rio Tinto and many, many more) setup operations without their consultation or consent.  Environmental disasters such as toxic chemicals found in the water supply or increasing number of birth deaths or defects have exposed rogue-mining operations and over time have forced the hand of powerful politicians and legislatures to comply with legal mechanisms that protect the rights of impacted community members. Recent examples include Peru’s mining town of Bagua ( where 34 people were killed in 2008 in a staged military attack against peaceful indigenous demonstrators. In the Congo (, where many rare-earth minerals are used to make mobile phones and appliances, increasing local uprisings have forced over $1 billion of mining investments to close. These uprising are clear evidence of a failed system or policy and potentially predict a dark future for Obama’s PRISM project, if left uncontested.

The striking resemblance between data mining and traditional mining suggests that some of the best practices used to resolve conflicts in the mining industry could also be applied to the PRISM project to safeguard it from escalating and potentially causing a ‘trust rift’ between the US government and the American people.

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